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News Blitz 8/18: Four potential roster locks we didn't see coming

Following the Patriots preseason win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday, Boston.com Zuri Berry listed his 5 biggest takeaways from the game. Berry talked a lot about the safety and wide receiver battles as well Ryan Mallett's growth at the quarterback position.

"Call it baby steps. But it did appear that backup quarterback Ryan Mallett improved over his last outing," writes Berry. "Mallett's journey is all about small wins now. He needs to have as many good outings as possible for his next job and he's got only two more opportunities left."

Another big takeaway from last Friday is the number of penalty flags that were thrown throughout the game. Former NFL supervisor of officials Jim Daopoulos called into Comcast SportsNet's "Sports Sunday" last night to talk about the the new point of emphasis. He says that once the regular season starts, the amount of penalties will decrease.

"They are basically telling them, 'get out there and throw [flags] and we'll tell you what's good.' It's a learning process right now," said Daopoulos.

One week later, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe and Doug Kyed of NESN.com each posted another 53-man roster projection. Both writers believe that Josh Boyce, Will Smith, and Roy Finch will be among the roster cuts at the end of August.

"One or two surprise cuts are always on tap. But with two exhibition games in the books, we're starting to get a good idea of who the coaching staff likes, and who is on the outside of the roster bubble," wrote Volin.

Every training camp a handful of players will come out of no where and impress the coaches enough to earn a spot on the 53-man roster. Boston.com's Jeremy Gottlieb says there are four players this year that we didn't see coming and have essentially become roster locks. Malcolm Butler, Roy Finch, and Brian Tyms are among the players that Gottlieb believes will be on the roster to start the season.

"The non-sneakiest of the group, Butler has been the darling of training camp and is well established on the radar screen," said Gottlieb. "He continued his impressive, playmaking work against the Eagles, forcing a fumble then recovering it seconds later and adding in an end zone pass breakup as well."

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Team photographer David Silverman offers his best from the Patriots preseason game against the Eagles on Friday, August 17, 2014.

Shalise Manza Young](http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2014/08/17/for-patriots-safety-numbers/aprCo7VxNvMdUXOjf1m9SO/story.html) of the Boston Globe says that the Patriots are being innovative at safety position. With no clear-cut player to lineup next to Devin McCourty, coach Belichick has been rotating players in and out of the starting safety position to see what fits best.

"Camp is the time to try different things, and Arrington and Ryan at safety sounds like something the Patriots were getting a look at for times when they play offenses with multiple pass-catching threats," wrote Young.

Led by Tom Brady on offense and Darrelle Revis on defense, the Patriots are expected to have another strong season in 2014. But which side of the ball (offense or defense) will be the strength of the Patriots team this year? Share your thoughts and VOTE over at NESN.com.

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